On the 16th April 2012 18 people started a hunger strike inside Coquelles Immigration Removal Centre. They are refusing to eat in protest at the inhumane conditions inside the centre and also their continued detention.
In an open letter signed by all 18 people , they ask ‘why have we been here so long? … Why are they [the Police] treating us like animals?’ They have been held inside the centre for over 25 days. After making this statement the border police demanded they stop the strike, however people refused.
Seemingly, in response to the hunger strike, police are making it difficult to visit the people inside the centre. A No Borders activist says ‘denying visits is a deliberate attempt to silence the voices of those on hunger strike. Some of these people are so desperate they are asking to be deported to get out of this place and resorting to starving themselves to try to change their situation. People are treated so incredibly badly here all the time.’
Conditions inside Coquelles Removal Centre are notoriously bad and accounts of violence by the police are common place. The hunger strikers state ‘we wish to be free from this deportation centre and this country.’
This hunger strike is not an isolated protest. On 4th April a person from Iran began a hunger strike from inside Coquelles Removal Centre, refusing any food until his release or death . On the 12th April he was deported to Hungary, a country he had never been to before. He was detained upon arrival and remains in detention there today, continuing to live without freedom.
In Belgium detainees have remained on hunger strike in protest against the conditions for over 100 days .
The systematic repression of people without papers in Europe is widespread. Coquelles detention centre continues to be at the centre of controversy, with regular protests by the people detained inside. The hunger strikers vow to continue to refuse food. They are asking for ‘a better life, and freedom’.
Calais Migrant Solidarity
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